Posts Tagged ‘housing’

A few more thoughts

March 31, 2011 1 comment

New Home Construction

If you have driven down River Rd lately you may have noticed signs advertising new homes for sale. Apparently the economy has come back with such a roar that the last bit of land cleared before the recession  is back in business to sell you a new home. Now, unlike in the housing boom where they put houses up without a buyer in sight, it seems the builder is only going to build if there is a buyer in hand. The prices came down from 180-200’s to the 140’s. I find it hard to believe that a builder out there can get financing to build again especially in an area that was hit pretty hard with foreclosures and where costs of existing homes are half of what they are asking for these new homes. I hope they do well, because it would be a great sign that maybe things are once again on the upswing.

A new school Superintendent?

It seems the board and its consulting firm has given us three candidates to take over for the indicted and disgraced Crawford Lewis. The three candidates are scheduled to do a dog and pony for the public on Thursday. By now you know their names and their credentials and probably more. I went to the local media sites where all three live just to get a feel for how the media and the public views them. At this point it is a two-woman race from my vantage point. Mr. Culver has some issues that are not deal breakers, but at this point DeKalb schools do not need a polarizing or slightly dinged figure to come in and takeover. It will just add to the mistrust and lack of faith that the general public has in the school system. That leaves the other two candidates. The superintendent from North Carolina, Lillie Cox,  would be the boldest move. I am not buying the argument that she comes from a small district. If you can lead a few successfully, then you should be able to lead many. Apparently she is beloved in her present job, and some are mad that she is considering leaving.  But I doubt she is going to make the cut with the public or enough board members. Then there is Dr. Gloria Davis from Decatur Illinois. She will probably land this job because she is the safe pick that will cause the least amount of criticism. It is still early in the process. I hope the board and the consulting firm did their homework. I would hate to have someone hired and then find out they plagiarized their Doctoral Thesis.

School Board Takeover?

I found this poll on former mayor Shirley Franklins blog. When asked if they supported a takeover of the school board by a mayor or county commision, a mjority of voters agreed.

The survey of 595 metropolitan Atlanta voters commission by Blogging While Blue about various issues reveals that 54% of voters support school takeovers while only 30% oppose them.

While I would agree that if a board has become so dysfunctional someone needs to step in, I would rather see the requirements for becoming a board member increased. I cannot fathom someone who does not have a college degree serving on a school board. Having a conviction involving children or a felony should be an automatic disqualification. I would like to see more highly qualified professional men and women seek school board positions, not people who want to use it as a stepping stone to some other public office.

And Finally,

I am sort of neutral on where libraries fit into our digital culture, but I must say that I was totally impressed with twelve year old Sekondi Landry. Young Mr. Landry was not to happy that the Scott-Candler Library on McAfee was slated to close. So He decided to start a petition to save his library. Now I don’t know for sure that it was his petition alone that saved the library, but it made me feel all good inside to see a twelve year old get out and fight for something he believes in. Too many times our kids fight for the wrong cause. This kid was on the right side of a good cause. Things like that makes even a pessimist like me think there is hope down the road.

What the economy has done to one South DeKalb neighborhood

May 19, 2010 Comments off

Driving through Belvedere Park recently gave me a true perspective on the real estate crisis that has steamrolled South DeKalb. I drove down streets that had two or three houses in a row boarded up and overgrown with weeds. On streets that routinely fill up with homeowners or renters, were desolate tracts of land and homes that had been abandoned by so many. as I ducked in and out of streets, empty homes became the norm. Even Knollwood Elementary school looked somehwat abandoned. When I drive around my own neighborhood, I complain because people do not cut their grass, or maintain their homes. They treat their homes as an afterthought to their cars or clothing. But driving through Belvedere I realized that things could be much worse. It was sad to ride through streets that I was familiar with and watch them die right before my eyes. I used to have friends and family that lived in the area, but they have long fled for the distant suburbs south and east of the city. I know when the economy rebounds, areas like Belvedere will probably never recover or at best stay where they are today while more exclusive areas will rebound and prosper. Areas like Belvedere will become the dumping ground for renters and those who make it a point to destroy neighborhoods. The little brick homes will fall into a state of disrepair and it will take years before someone decides that the area is worth saving. Before the economic downturn, there were signs that Belvedere might be experiencing a rebirth. The Wal-Mart basically revided the commercial area at Columbia and Memorial drives. Small residential developments were popping up. On White Oak, there were several custom homes built and sold. Some houses were being renovated and existing owners were trying to improve their homes appearance. It was not unusual to see a home on the market from about 125,000 dollars. But the area was not taking off like East Lake or Kirkwood. Those two areas had risen above the ashes far enough where they were not pulled down by the economic collapse. There were subtle changes in the housing landscape in Belvedere and you could see the tide of redevelopment headed its way. Then came the downturn. Neighborhoods like Belvedere, which were buoyed by record real estate prices, saw the bottom fall out. I saw a house where a contractors’ dumpster had been sitting there for so long, weeds had started to creep up the sides. No one was putting money into the area. After all, a house that may have fetched 80 to 100 thousand in 2006 or 2007 would barely get 45000 dollars today. The sad part about Belvedere is that they are not alone. With foreclosures, job losses, and under-employment, way too many South DeKalb neighborhoods have taken a step or two back, and we know how hard it will be just to recover those two steps and get back to a break-even level.